December 14, 2011

The One Best Practice

Being enthusiastic creates an immediate change in your sales results and is clearly a win-win.

If there are “best practices,” then some must be better than others. Of the “better” best practices, one should be best and -- when implemented -- must have immediate results.

For those interested in “Best Practices,” I have two free resources for you. I have created a Best Practices Resource page for you on my website. I also have archived my blog posts on financial advisor best practices.

After you have read this article, go learn about “The One Worst Practice.” There you can take my “Best Practices 2011” survey as well as get additional information on this vital concept.

That one best practice should be enjoyable if not downright fun. Any “best practice” that people hate would not be deployed and therefore could not possibly be best.

And quite obviously, it should not be difficult. Someone, such as me, should be able to point it out to you. You might then pause for a second, think about it, and then reply, “I got it.” And then you do it.

And so it is with “the one best practice.”

I learned it when I was in college. The story is written up in my first book, Prospecting Your Way to Sales Success (1986) although at the time I did not identify it as a best practice. But looking back, it clearly is.

I learned it during a hot summer between my sophomore and junior years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Carolina for you Tar Heels). I had decided an adventure was in order and some money would be nice, so I signed up with a friend who was recruiting students to sell dictionaries door-to-door for Southwest Publishing.

I was sent to Abilene, Texas, still not my favorite spot because for 28 days in a row it was 100 degrees or more. While a friend of mine had a car, I had a bicycle and shoe leather. Hot. Texas hot.

I had a crew leader. His name was Buzzy Stubbs. Looking back, he knew a lot about sales. But he focused on two principles and pounded these into our heads. Both are clearly “best practices.” I’ll mention one and then focus on the other, which I believe is the one best practice.

Buzzy really understood that sales is a numbers game. His voice still echoes somewhere in the back of my mind, “Good!  What’s this I hear about you walking door-to-door? You’ve got to run. That’s the only way to make more calls!”

Once a week or so, as I would be trudging door-to-door, I would hear Buzz’ car come growling around the corner. He would jump out, run to wherever I was, and we would run together to the next house.

I really didn’t have a choice. He would stand beside me while I made my presentation. As we ran to the next house, he would deliver a critique even hotter than the scorching summer sun.

After one such call, he said, “Good, you sound dead.”

“Buzz,” I protested, “I’m trying to sound warm and friendly.”

“Warm and friendly?  Where did that come from?  You are supposed to sound enthusiastic.”

“Come on, Buzz. I don’t feel enthusiastic.”

“I don’t remember asking how you feel. In fact, I don’t care how you feel. All I care about is that you sound enthusiastic. Come on! Let’s go! “

He grabbed my arm and we ran to the next house where, by golly, I just cranked up enthusiasm that I most certainly did not feel.

I will not ever forget the lady who answered the door. Hair in curlers. Terry cloth robe. Barely awake.

“Hi!” I said with a great big smile on my face.

She looked at me for a moment. She sort of shook herself awake. And then, with a smile, she said “Hi!”

And she bought a dictionary.

Lesson learned: It doesn’t matter how you feel.

No matter what you feel, be enthusiastic. That is the one best practice.

Being enthusiastic creates an immediate change in your sales results. As an added benefit, people’s reaction to your enthusiasm makes you feel better. It’s clearly win-win.

Fast forward to right now.

You are the foundation in your clients’ financial lives. If you sound unstable, morose, scared, imagine the effect on them. So I’ll go with my old friend, Buzz:

It does not matter how you feel.

Market gyrations do not matter.

Your personal life is irrelevant.

You are always upbeat, calm, cheerful, professional, and you always smile when you greet anyone, in person or on the phone.

In sales, there is an element of showbiz.

When Carol Channing walked on stage for one of her 1,000 performances of “Hello Dolly,” do you think members of the audience knew from one performance to the next how she felt?  Did they care?

Not one spec. That’s because there is an ethic in showbiz:  The show must go on. Stories are legion of performers who went on stage following a personal tragedy, and no one knew until after.

And so it must with the sales professional. Smile. Be enthusiastic. And your show will go on.

Go ahead. Try it. On your next call or appointment, show those pearly whites. Be enthusiastic.

*****

Bill Good is chairman of Bill Good Marketing. His Gorilla CRM® System helps advisors double their production or work half as much; visit www.billgood.com. His seminar program, “No More Pies! ®,” helps advisors manage ETF portfolios using technical analysis; see www.nomorepies.net. And his blog, financialadvisorsmarketing.net, has lots of useful information for advisors who need to beef up marketing. To preview Bill as a speaker, see his YouTube channel here: bit.ly/billgoodspeaker.

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